JOHNNY COOL (1963)

Directed By: William Asher
Written By: John McPartland
Based On the novel “The Kingdom of Johnny Cool” By: Joseph London
Cinematography: Sam Leavitt
Editor: Otto Ludwig

Cast: Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Telly Savalas, Sammy Davis Jr., Elisha Cook Jr., John Dierks, Jim Backus, Richard Anderson, Joey Bishop, Brad Dexter

Colini, An exiled American gangster living in Sicily, rescues Giordano, a young Sicilian outlaw, from the police. After Giordano is groomed, polished, and renamed “Johnny Cool,” Colini sends him on a vengeance mission to the United States to assassinate the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile. Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini’s list. Meanwhile, he picks up Dare Guiness, a wealthy divorcée who becomes his accomplice, and she is severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning against the vendetta.


Th is is a great and beautiful gangster film that I have heard anything about going into it and glad I didn’t. Didn’t have a hype to love up to but was thoroughly entertained and by the end shocked I had never heard of it. Even with it’s a more groovy sounding title. It’s a tight little thriller. This a surprisingly brutal and dark-hearted mob movie where no one gets away scot-free or clean.

You would think this based on a graphic novel made today. As the protagonist at the heart of this tale is a kind of anti-hero sent to do a mission but also has plans of his own. So in the beginning, while the film wants ya to feel for him by the end he has become a villain himself with no happy ending in sight.

The film ends with sorrow as even the innocent character played by Elizabeth Montgomery could have gotten away with her parts in the crimes but ends up being the only honest character and ends up paying the price.

What is interesting about her character is that her character is truthful ashamed and disgusted by the actions of her boyfriend Johnny cool. But she knows if he showed up right then and there it would be impossible to resist him. So she is self-aware realistically.

The assassination and action scenes are riveting and don’t usually show too much violence more alludes to them.  The film has an old school charm where even dealing in the underworld With plenty of doubles crosses everyone comes off dignified and sharp.

This is half a rat pack film as it has small roles played by Sammy Davis jr who also sings a few songs on the soundtrack and Joey bishop plays a small pivotal role, as well as the film Was produced by peter Lawford. Plus Henry Silva playing the title role. has co-Starred in many frank Sinatra and rat pack films. Playing various races in films over the years. 
 

This film is a little known gem that deserves to be seen and appreciated more. 

Grade: B-